What do viewers in Northern Ireland call the third channel? ITV? ITV 1? UTV? The UTV? Ulster Television?
The name ITV plc thinks you should use is not at all clear even if the station branding is now strong and explicit.
With the revamp of ITV 1, visually UTV’s brand seems to have reached its final destination.
Trails now follow the standard ITV 1 format. 1s fly over the screen as the trail transitions to the endboard. Then at the very end the ITV 1 logo wipes on.
UTV is effectively a hallmark – a trusted brand which brings together the local output.
Visually there is no doubt the channel name is ITV 1 – trails, idents and the DOG all highlight the name.
Before it was just about conceivable the ITV name (left out of local promos) was just the old generic name for the network.
But orally the name is less clear. Announcements before local programmes rarely, if ever, give a name.
But trails still tend to end with the words “on UTV” – even with the ITV 1 name on screen.
Similarly the EPG still refers solely to UTV.
ITV has always been very hesitant to be seen as downgrading the UTV brand. It is, of course, a name which goes back many years.
But we’re at the point where the remaining hesitancy seems hard to justify.
Even if there was a reluctance to explicitly voice the name “ITV 1” on a local trail, there are ways round this.
The UTV Life trail points the way. Simply don’t say UTV as the channel name. Use the brand in other ways. Perhaps in the title of the programme? Perhaps by including a more subtle use of the name: “Join the UTV news team for View from Stormont, Monday at 10.45pm.”
The other mystery concerns the EPG name.
In English regions the name is simply “ITV 1”. Wales and the Scottish part of the Border region are afforded an appropriate suffix.
But the EPG name in Northern Ireland remains UTV alone.
Take one step back. This risks being confusing to someone with no prior knowledge. Either the channel is ITV 1 or UTV.
The obvious thing to do is to change the EPG name to “ITV 1 UTV”
Neither of these two changes would cause the sky to fall in but it would make the channel name definitive.
The UTV name appears to have a future as a trusted sub-brand under the ITV 1 masterbrand. A hallmark on local output.
I would be surprised if UTV Live does not adopt explicit ITV News branding at some point but I would also be shocked if the name changed unless there was a wider shake-up across the network. It’s no “worse” than ITV News Granada Reports or ITV News Meridian.
Visually the brand has now reached that final destination in promotions and continuity. It’s time to put the finishing touches to voiceovers and the EPG.
PICTURED: ITV 1 and UTV logos. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.